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Blockcast.cc: Hi Felix @felixohartmann, how are you? My name is Jenny Zheng, I am the cofounder of @Blockcastcc. Can you give an introduction of yourself.
Felix: Hi Jenny, my name is Felix Hartmann, and I am the Managing General Partner of Hartmann Digital Assets Fund. I’ve first fallen in love with trading back in 2012, and ever since I graduated college, it’s been my full time. In 2018 I decided to take it further and launched my first Hedge Fund. My overall focus, drive and passion falls somewhere between finance and futurism. And the two intersect quite perfectly. The best investments of the last decade were the less obvious ones that took a lot of foresight and imagination to see through. Whatever we find impossible today, tends to be the norm a decade later. I aim to lead in that niche. For now that puts my focus on Digital Assets, but in the not too distant future I see myself taking my investments also into the trans-humanist and AI space, as well as MR, which is already pretty far along. Crypto and DLT to me however is that first niche that needs to succeed, as most technologies without decentralization are a recipe for dystopia. And as a dystopian fiction author, I’ve spent an hour or two thinking about all the potential scenarios things could go awry.
Blockcast.cc: Tell us what exactly you do in the blockchain space. Tell us the insights :>
Felix: While my primary function in this space is that of an asset manager and allocator, the truth is that the few crypto fund managers still active in this space carry many hats. As a fund manager you are one of the few individuals, other than paid journalists, that get to study this space full time. To make the right investments you must fully understand the space. As a result some of the most enlightening research at this time comes from fund managers (Willy Woo, Chris Burniske, Kyle Samani to name a few). I contribute to that body of work in countless ways, whether it’s through research reports for accredited investors, educational seminars for the retail space, or advisory with governments and startups. I’m particularly active in Europe, which has been lagging the US and Asia quite a bit. My goal for 2020 is to help 1,000,000 people understand Bitcoin and Blockchain, which will help the space grow. Because at the end of the day as an investor in the digital asset space, understanding that it is decentralized and there is no Board of Directors responsible for progress, I take ownership in supporting the space however I can, such as by driving new development talent and users towards this new technology.
Blockcast.cc: Based on what I know, you are a book author too. What is the book about?
Felix: Yes, writing has been my oldest passion, and I published my first novel, Dark Age, in 2016. After a global class-war in 2049 sparked by both trans-humanism and AI, the only way to put an end to the war was to take down the electricity grid and internet. Dark Age tells the story of that aftermath, as the world regressed back into the Dark Ages as much of the world’s progress and knowledge was lost (based on the digital dark age theory). The story follows a young man who grows up in a city ruled by a religious tyrant, who used the world’s collapse to create a tale faith, making himself the new messiah. As the young man explores the truth of what really happened in the past, he must choose between a rigid but safe life under the regime, or risking it all to bring forth the tyrant’s fall. The novel explores various political, existential, and theological themes, and was in part inspired by the revolutions of the Arab Spring, which were my focus of study in High School and College. I learned that every rebel views their ruler as a tyrant, and every ruler sees terrorists in the rebels he is opposed by. Everyone has a story, and everyone sees themselves as the hero of their own tale. Dark Age explores this dichotomy.
“I envision where the future could take us, invest in the good and fight to prevent the bad.” So what is the future for all of us?
That line is my guiding mantra. I think the future can either be a thriving utopia, or quite frankly a dystopia so horrid, even fiction has not gotten close to describing it. I talk about it at length on my YouTube Channel, in the Dawn of Man series. Amongst everything that could go wrong, I’ve found two pillars we must pay attention to:
Capitalism meets opportunity.
Historically capitalism drives the global standard of living up across the board. Even the lowest income brackets have better health care, telecommunication, nutrition and more, than they did 100 years ago. However there is good and healthy capitalism and then there is bad capitalism. The differentiator? Opportunity and economic mobility. Capitalism should be a meritocracy where hard work and unique solutions are afforded wealth. This is something we must particularly pay attention to in the age of automation. Because if you think income inequality is bad now, just wait until a handful of businesses can do every job in the world better than everyone else for a cheaper rate. Imagine what Amazon did to retail by acquiring goods cheaper and underbidding their competitors, and extend that to the labor/skill marketplace when an AI can do your job better than you.
Innovation meets sustainability.
Just like capitalism, innovation, on a net level is good for the world. Innovation has helped us live longer, cure diseases, exchange ideas globally and digitally, and so much more. No problem is too big to be solved by billions of minds, interconnected on the web. But everything comes with a caveat. Take the car for example. Just a little over 100 years ago it was a novelty. And it was an unimaginable thing that everyday people ride a mechanical box with wheels instead of a horse. Today 100 years there are 1.2 billion cars on the road. One for about every 6th person. Now clearly that is an immense accomplishment as transportation allows us more freedom, more mobility, more opportunities. But of course that comes with an ecological consequence. Sustainability also goes deeper than the environment. Is it sustainable to have everyone self-experiment with their genetics? Innovation says yes, risk of creating hereditary diseases and deformities may say no. That’s for the world to figure out, but we must always ask if our current actions are sustainable, and if not, at which point do we plan to correct course? So just like the pendulum of capitalism and opportunity should always be at equilibrium, so must the the pendulum of innovation and sustainability. The key here is that we can use one to create the other. Use innovation to create sustainability. Use capitalism to create opportunity. If we can accomplish that, few dystopian scenarios can come true.
Blockast.cc: Scam projects are everywhere in cryptoverse. Tell us one of the most extraordinary scams that you have met.
Felix: The worst scams are the ones that appear real. Look at the top 5 crypto currencies by market cap. There is one that has a private company behind it. And that private company received something like 60-70% of the token supply. Now they are dumping that supply daily on retail investors. To do what? Who knows, but one of their technologies that is being funded by token sales is literally a technology that can do what the token does, but does not require the token. A decentralized network is not supposed to have a private entity profiting from the network. That’s value extraction, not value creation. Now there is talks of that private entity IPO’ing and I’m just sitting here wondering when that house of cards will collapse. I’m not going to say which project it is, but my fund only shorts one coin. Starts with an X, ends with a P.
Blockcast.cc: That is very obvious. You should have met many good projects too. Share one of them with us that is going to blow our minds.
Felix: BTC blows my mind every month with its resilience and growth. But we all know that. One of the few alt projects that’s unique, weathered the storm of the bear market, and had some adoption that makes you scratch your head and say “wow”, is Decentraland. Amidst the depths of the bear market people were spending 6 figures+ to buy virtual land, most of which has appreciated consistently, and even attracted some brands. A finite virtual world with decentralized governance is one of those projects that is truly future oriented. Full disclosure, we are a stake holder in the network via token investments, and it is also one of those projects that will be either a huge success or utter failure. Decentraland was also able to attract support from DCG which set up a Decentraland ecosystem VC fund. Ecosystem funds these days are somewhere between a huge edge and a necessity for a project to survive and thrive in this battle of 5000+ alt-coins.
Blockcast.cc: Lastly, share an inspiring quote with our readers.
Felix: This is what I have to say-
Blockchain will succeed when we forget that we are using blockchain.
Blockcast.cc: Any final words to tell our readers?
Felix: Bitcoin, DLT, and crypto take patience. Both in execution and in understanding. But once it clicks there is no going back. If you still have your doubts, I just encourage you to research more. Watch Andreas Antonopolous, read white papers, go to hackathons, meet with teams and see what they are working on. While there is a fair share of vapor ware, there is also some incredible stuff being built right now that will shape the future of the world. If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on twitter @felixohartmann or instagram @felix_hartmann, where I’m more than happy to answer questions and guide you in the right direction. There’s few opportunities in life where you can both make an immense impact and be part of a revolution and make money being part of it. Whether you’re a developer, a marketer, a designer, or in business development, projects need all types of skills, and there’s few more exciting opportunities than being part of a crypto startup in 2020.
Blockcast.cc: Thanks Felix. Pleasure talking to you.
Felix: Likewise Jenny.
Blockcast.cc: For more interview segments go to https://blockcast.cc/category/interviews/